Argentina vs Belgium World Cup 2014 preview: Eden Hazard says Argentina can be beaten, in spite of Lionel Messi

The sides meet in a quarter-final in Brasilia on Saturday

Salvador

They have been billed as their country’s golden generation for some time and now they have the chance to prove it. Belgium’s success in overcoming the United States in the most dramatic, compelling match of this World Cup so far has merely opened the door to an even bigger test – a quarter-final against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Saturday afternoon – and Eden Hazard, for one, believes that they can pass it.

Belgium’s 2-1 extra-time success over the US took them into a first World Cup quarter-final since 1986 in Mexico when, ironically, they ended up losing to a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina in the semi-finals. Maradona scored twice that day, including a solo effort almost as good as the one he had managed against England in the previous round.

“It is a big game for this generation,” said Hazard. “It is very important. We can make history. I hope we can win. We know the best player in the world is in this team, but we are not afraid. We can win.”

Read more: Who look like winners - Belgium or Argentina?
Player ratings: Belgium vs United States
Messi's path to footballing immortality

The Chelsea forward suggested that Belgium have a better team than an Argentina side notably reliant on Messi – “It is the difference [though] they have Angel di Maria as well” – and this was a view echoed by his coach Marc Wilmots. “We are not favourites against Argentina but there is a lack of balance in their team,” he said. “We will make sure we play well against a stronger opponent. I do not worry about what happened in the past and I certainly don’t think it will happen again.”

Angel di Maria celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi Angel di Maria celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi  

Belgium will certainly travel to Brasilia for Saturday’s quarter-final with confidence after they finally took flight as an attacking force against the US. Following criticism of their defensively sound if uninspiring performances in winning Group H, they were a different proposition in Salvador on Tuesday evening, where they had 27 shots on goal and would have won comfortably inside 90 minutes but for the brilliance of Tim Howard.

It helped that the US gave them more space to play in than their group stage opponents had allowed them, as Kevin de Bruyne acknow-leged: “It was easier to play with the ball, it was not like playing with 10 defenders.”

 

Once again they left it late, though, winning in extra time through goals from De Bruyne and substitute Romelu Lukaku. De Bruyne was arguably Belgium’s best performer though he praised the impact of the squad’s two strikers, teenager Divock Origi – who led the line impressively on only his second international start – and the man who replaced him for extra time, Lukaku. “It is the same as happened before when Romelu started and Divock make the difference [scoring the winner against Russia]. Now it happened the other way. Divock did well but was tired and then Romelu did really well.”

A tired American defence could not handle the contributions from Tottenham’s swashbuckling left-back Jan Vertonghen and  Everton winger Kevin Mirallas, whose impact as a substitute underlined further Belgium’s strength in depth.  They may well need it against Argentina.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'